Otter Cove Winery
Chardonnay • Top Secret
California: Monterey County: Santa Lucia Highlands
What we say
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes greater than great, as is the case with today’s wine from our friend Richard Oh at Otter Cove Wines.
Mission Codename: Hey, Hey, Chardonnay!
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Revisit Otter Cove Wines, and this time return with a Chardonnay
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Otter Cove Wines
Wine Subject: 2005 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
Winemaker: Richard Oh
Backgrounder: We love wines made by Richard Oh, a winemaker of distinction that makes wines made primarily from Monterey County fruit.
Monterey County’s Santa Lucia Highlands boasts 2,300 acres of wine grapes and a near-perfect environment for Chardonnay, which makes up more than half of the grapes grown in this region. The reason for this massive proportion? Santa Lucia Highlands grows some of the best Chardonnay in the country! Today’s 100% Stainless Steel fermented Chardonnay is made from old vine grapes that deliver big character and a bevy of aromas and flavors.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Straw yellow to bright yellow with perfect clarity, a bouncy surface and long, tightly-space legs
Smell – Citrus, tropical fruits and flowers light up your nose, with lime, tangerine, acacia, pineapple, butterscotch and honey
Feel – Round and slightly hard in your mouth, with an initial zing on just-opened wine. After some time in the air, the wine mellows and becomes more balanced and mellow with a texture that feels slippery and then slightly tanic at the back of the mouth. Decant this wine for best results!
Taste – Bright flavors of starfruit, citrus, light butterscotch, flint, butter and light golden pear
Finish – Sweet then slightly tart, with a light drying that makes your mouth water and reminds you to sip some more!
Conclusion – I love a great white wine and this one from Richard Oh makes my mouth wake up and take notice of its quality. Never a big fan of overly oaky California Chardonnay, this stainless steel fermented wine exhibits great smoothness, a bouncy and slippery mouthfeel and wonderful aromatics and flavors. Even Agent Red, our resident Red Wine aficionado, appreciates the boldness and flavors that this wine delivers.
Pairing Recommendation – Last night, at a Wine Spies holiday gathering with our female agent counterparts, we enjoyed this wine with Tandoori Chicken skewers, right off the Wine Spies BBQ. We also toasted Richard Oh, and you, our fellow Field Operatives!
To illustrate how we first became familiar with Richard Oh and his wines, the following is a retransmission of the mission where we first placed Richard Oh under surveillance
On my recommendation Wine Spies HQ issued me a mission directive to place Richard Oh, winemaker and owner of Otter Cove Wines, under direct surveillance. I had done enough deep background work to know that this mission would be a fairly easy one to accomplish.
Richard Oh’s Otter Cove Wines can be found at several great Monterey area restaurants and I learned that Richard himself could often be found frequenting one particular restaurant, The Siamese Bay Thai restaurant in Downtown Monterey.
I had my advance team stake the place out and I found that Richard took lunch there most Thursday’s and usually at the peak times, when there was usually a wait for a seat. I used this knowledge to my advantage and, on a Thursday, waited in my car, across the street, waiting for Richard to arrive. After he went inside, I followed a few minutes later.
The restaurant was packed. Noticing that he was seated alone at a table for two I gingerly asked him if I he would mind sharing his table with me. He politely obliged and when the waiter took my order, I added, “And please bring me a glass of the Otter Cove”. Richard did his best to hide his amusement and I tried my best to ignore that.
The wine arrived and I sniffed deeply. Despite the big aromas of Thai spices in the air, the wine came through and it smelled great. I swirled, looked and sniffed some more. Richard, doing a great job of acting nonchalant, seemed to be growing anxious for me to take my first sip. I took my time, sniffing, swirling some more.
“Aren’t you going to try the wine?”, he Asked.
Looking somewhat absent-minded, I said, “Oh. Yes, in a moment. I am enjoying the smells.”
“Wine drinker, are you?”
“Sort of,” I lied.
When I finally took a sip, there was no lying in my reaction. I loved the wine and I made the fact plainly obvious.
“What do you think?”, he asked me.
“You make great wine, Richard.”
“Why, thank you… Agent…. ‘Red’ I presume?”
It seems that my advance team had accidentally revealed themselves a few days earlier – and that Richard Oh, master winemaker, had anticipated my arrival.
If Richard were not so good at his own craft, I’d recruit him to work in ours. He’d have made a great Wine Spy!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Vineyard is Top Secret, but the great restaurant where the above mission took place is not. The Siamese Bay Thai Restaurant can be seen in this satellite photo
What the winery says
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Our 2005 Chardonnay:
The grapes are from the old vines up in the Santa Lucia Highlands. What a well balanced wine. No oak with malolactic fermentation. You’ll get a hint of butterscotch, tropical fruits, honey, and a bit of citrus at the end. Very clean finish. This will pair well with crab, salmon, chicken, halibut, sand dabs, cheeses and fruits, or pretty much all seafood. You can also drink it by itself.
It’s refreshingly Monterey! Cheers!
We produce wines with Monterey County grapes. We were able to bring some great tasting wines to Monterey and beyond. We pride ourselves with quality products at a great price. We are a local group of wine makers and consultants seeking to bring great joy to others by producing what nature gave us. We can’t think of a better way to share stories, dinner, tastings, laughter, love, and romance than over a bottle of wine… Otter Cove wine, that is.
Detailed Wine Information:
Appellation: Santa Lucia Highlands
Bottling Date: August 23, 2006
Release Date: January 11, 2007
Varietal: 100% Chardonnay